The professional body for Australian lawyers has raised alarms over the detention of Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor, who was working for the International Criminal Court in Libya.
Law Council of Australia president Catherine Gale, said while the Law Council is not in a position to comment on the details of the allegations against Taylor, it has emphasised the importance of Libya as a member of the United Nations, respecting international principles relating to the role of lawyers.
â€œThe UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers have been formulated to assist UN members and provide that governments should ensure lawyers are able to perform their functions without hindrance, are able to travel and consult with clients freely and should not be sanctioned for actions taken in accordance with recognised professional standards.
â€œThe International Bar Association has also established principles on the independence of the legal profession which provide that lawyers should be able to act for clients in a professional capacity free from interference,â€ Gale said.
The Law Council said it is now monitoring the situation of the detained members of the ICC staff in Libya closely. It emphasised that they are entitled to the immunity necessary for the performance of their functions in accordance with the Rome Statute.
The Rome Statute established the ICC and under this Statute ICC staff have the right to have privileged contact with suspects.
â€œWhile Libya is not a party to the Rome Statute, the matters concerning Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who Ms Taylor was visiting when detained, were referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council and accordingly, Libya has legal obligations to cooperate with the ICC and respect the rights conferred by the Rome Statute,â€ Ms Gale said.
The Law Council will continue to monitor the detention of the ICC staff, including Taylor, it said.